Meadows leads home outburst in win

by Gary Shelton on July 25, 2021

in general

Meadows hit two homers in the win./STEVEN MUNCIE

Sunday, 4 a.m.

For all the talk of Nelson Cruz, the new toy of the Tampa Bay Rays, it might be time to remind yourself of this:

The Rays had some pretty good players of their own.

Yeah, Cruz will help an offense that often flickers like a bad light bulb, but on Saturday night, the Rays' powered their way to an 8-2 victory over Cleveland for their fifth straight victory. This one seized a share of first place, as the team finally chased down the Boston Red Sox.

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Cruz didn't do much in the latest win, but he had a good seat to see his new teammates shine.

For instance:

-- Austin Meadows broke out of his home run slump with two two-run homers and four RBI.

-- Ji-Man Choi had four hits, including a homer, and drove in three.

-- Joey Wendle also had four hits as the Rays had 13.

-- Brett Phillips had a homer.

-- And on a bullpen day, the bullpen was sharp. The last four Rays' pitchers gave up only four hits and no earned runs after Drew Rasmussen worked the first three innings.

Meadows had gone 22 games and 77 at-bats since his last homer. He had been hitting well -- .291 in his last 23 games. He now has 18 homers and 70 RBI.

"I didn’t know he hadn’t hit a home run in a month," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "If he’s not homering he’s getting game-winning hits. Austin seems to be in a really good spot."

Choi continued his onslaught. After hitting a three-run homer in the ninth inning the night before, Choi had two doubles and a homer. Wendle had two singles and two doubles.

Choi said he hit the ball well on Friday night, but changed his bat before the ninth-inning homer. He kept the same bat on Saturday.

He had a shot to hit for the cycle.

“For the second double, I had no chance. K.K .(Kevin Kiermaier) told me if I hit a triple he would give me $5,000, but it didn't happen."

Cash said being tied for first is better than trailing, but there are games to be played.

"We've got a lot of baseball left," Cash said. "We want to do everything we can to keep winning. The other club is winning on a pretty good rate. We want to do the same thing."

The Rays try to sweep the four-game series against Cleveland in a 1:10 p.m. game today at Progressive Field. The Rays are leaning toward starting Ryan Yarbrough against Cleveland's Triston McKenzie .

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